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Top challenges female leaders face in Asia Pacific



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It’s no surprise that entrepreneurs face many barriers when looking to grow their business. Despite these, a survey by EY found that confidence and bold growth plans are trademarks of Asia Pacific’s female business owners.

The survey of 143 Asia Pacific women entrepreneurs was conducted as part of the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women(EWW) Asia-Pacific programme, sponsored by Standard Chartered.

The survey pointed out that these female leaders face two main barriers – lack of key advisory network and a weak public profile.

Though building a key advisory network has been shown to yield new opportunities and ways of thinking, the survey found that only 35% of APAC respondents have a network of trusted advisors while a 67% said establishing one is a priority.

The survey pointed out that building a public profile has been shown to accelerate the growth of businesses for those seeking to expand globally. However, only 10% of respondents felt they were “very prominent” and 43% revealed that they spend less than 10% of their time promoting themselves.

Despite the barriers, the survey found strong appetites for growth among all respondents with 90% reporting that they plan to scale their business, with 60% planning to grow internationally.

ALSO READ: 80% of female talent would rather be entrepreneurs

In the ASEAN region, this hunger for global expansion was found to be even stronger, with nearly 70% setting their sights on international growth.

To support these ambitions, 58% of APAC female business owners revealed that they have explored external financing options, with 73% saying that they found the process “intimidating”.

In ASEAN, however, eight in 10 of ASEAN female business owners revealed that they have explored external financing options and do not find the process difficult.

Max Loh, ASEAN and Singapore managing partner, Ernst & Young, said: “These (emerging cohort of women business owners in ASEAN) typically use personal savings as their start-up capital, spend years developing the business and re-investing profits, then turn to business loans as a source of operating capital later on.

“Most see the potential to scale their business quickly and place market expansion as their top priority. At the same time, they tend to have a strong sense of family and are inclined to have the business succeeded by a family member,” Loh added.

Image: Shutterstock

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